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Research Report

Keeping America’s Innovative Edge: A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK

Peter Engelke
Robert A. Manning
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2017
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 70
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)
    Jon M. Huntsman Jr.

    Turning scientific knowledge and engineering prowess into commercial products and services—tech-driven innovation—is a major reason why the United States became the world’s foremost economic and geopolitical leader, and why it remains so today. However, there is no guarantee that the future will resemble the past. With worldwide competition increasing in this space, the United States must evaluate how it can retain its edge as the world’s leading innovator.

    This question is at the heart of a multiyear partnership between the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and Qualcomm, Inc. The first year of the partnership focused...

  2. (pp. 6-11)

    Technical innovation has been fundamental to the economic prosperity and global preeminence of the United States for a very long time. Yet while the United States still enjoys its leading position, there is growing risk that it will lose its edge in technical innovation. There is increasing competition from China and other emerging economies that threatens to displace the United States’ top role in a range of key technologies. In an age of ever-faster technical development, the United States will stay atop the global order only if it begins to heed the warnings that have become louder over the past...

  3. (pp. 12-28)

    Cities and regions are the physical places where innovation occurs on the ground, but as this report maintains, innovation is a product of a national system consisting of multiple interacting parts. These parts are varied and include robust R&D, often funded by the federal government and occurring at research universities and federal research labs around the country; tax and regulatory policies that exist at local, state, and federal levels; private investment and entrepreneurial activity within established firms and startups; and the activities of a suite of intermediary institutions that, together, provide the lubricant for the nation’s innovation engine. Intermediary institutions...

  4. (pp. 29-37)

    What, then, can be said about the state of America’s innovation system? The most basic observation is that this system remains the world’s most productive of its kind and that, while other countries are building their own versions, for now the US engine is unrivaled. No one else possesses the culture, history, policy climate, and institutional strength and variety of the United States. But as stated at the outset of this report, there is one gigantic caveat, namely that the US pays too little attention to maintaining and strengthening its innovation system, the engine that is metaphorically powering the US...

  5. (pp. 38-53)

    California’s Bay Area, a region that stretches northward from Silicon Valley (San Jose, Palo Alto, and environs) to San Francisco and Oakland, is the world’s premier technology hub. By almost every imaginable metric, the Bay Area is ahead of every other hub in the world, often by a large margin. The region, Bay Area interlocutors told us, “is its own center of gravity” with “an ecosystem to dream about.” There are few reasons to be concerned about the region’s staying power in the foreseeable future, and indeed there is no reason to believe that it will fall from first place...